In South Africa, domestic workers have a Domestic
Workers’ Union to help them demand laws to protect
themselves. They began by knocking on doors, and
by educating people through pamphlets and radio
announcements. Now they are a national union. They
work with domestic workers’ unions in other countries
to help workers get fair working hours, fair pay, social
security benefits, and other basic protections.
Unions like the South African Domestic Workers’ Union
are a very good way to organize and protect workers’ rights.
But it is often difficult to start a local union because there are
no larger unions for support or because the company does
not allow them. In this case there are other ways women can
work together to help themselves.
When women start to work together for better
conditions, they sometimes fear that they may lose their jobs
or that they will be treated badly if their employers find out.
In these cases it is important that women trust those they are
organizing with. If it is not possible to talk at work, it may be
best to meet in secret in private homes or in the community.
To begin organizing your workplace:
• Talk with the women you work with
to identify common problems and
possible ways to solve them.
• Meet together regularly as a group
to build trust and help support one
another. Be sure to include women
who are new at work and make
them feel welcome. Remember,
there is strength in numbers.
Once you are organized as a group or a workers’
association, you may feel strong enough to join a union or
start your own. The company may be less likely to challenge
you if you are already organized.
What your organization can do
When your group has identifed common problems and
possible solutions, decide which problems can be changed and
what you need to do to make change happen. Even if the
company is not willing to change anything, you can do a lot for
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012